Pregnant Londoner Faces death penalty: Samantha Orobator to face hasty ‘show’ trial in Laos

May 1, 2009

Image of Samantha Orobator

Reprieve is urgently concerned for a pregnant British woman without legal representation who faces a hastily arranged trial – and possible death penalty – in Laos next week. Clive Stafford Smith will reveal details of the case at a press conference tomorrow at 1pm in Room C, 1 Parliament Street, Westminster.

Samantha Orobator, 20, was arrested at Wattay Airport on 6th August 2008 on a drug smuggling charge.

Since then she has been held in the notoriously abusive prison Phonthong where she became pregnant in early December. There are many reports of abuse and several deaths, including that of a British national last year. Conditions in the prison remain harsh and the diet is dangerously inadequate. Samantha is severely distressed, and Reprieve has grave concerns for her health and that of her unborn child.

By scheduling her trial for next week, the Laos court has made it impossible for any lawyer to prepare an adequate defence. If convicted next week, Samantha would face death by firing squad.

Born in Nigeria in 1988, Samantha moved to the UK when she was eight years old, and was raised by her aunt in south London.

Samantha left home in July 2008 for a holiday and, after visiting the Netherlands and Thailand, was arrested in Laos with 0.6 kg of heroin. This is a comparatively small amount, but exceeds the statutory minimum for the death penalty in Laos. There is no evidence that she was anything more than a mule.

Reprieve believes Samatha’s life now hangs in the balance, and has appealed to Samantha’s MP, Harriet Harman, who has made urgent representations on Samantha’s behalf.

-ENDS-

For more information please contact Katherine O’Shea at Reprieve’s Press Office katherine.oshea@reprieve.org.uk 020 7427 1099.

Notes for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

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